For people struggling with alcoholism, living a sober life is easier said than done. Alcohol alters our brain chemistry by increasing dopamine (the brain’s reward center), making us feel great after drinking. So, many people turn to alcohol whenever they want to feel good and end up becoming addicted.
This is why, despite the documented benefits of sober living, alcoholics may still be skeptical about going sober. Many fear that sober living would be boring and depressing in comparison to their current alcohol-stimulated lives. Once your brain becomes dependent on alcohol, it will also repel your attempts at sober living.
Those that choose sober living come to that decision for many different reasons. Their alcoholism may cause a health scare that finally alerts them to the benefits of healthy living. Or they may have to stop drinking after an intervention from friends and family.
Whatever the reason many find that sober living is extremely beneficial and nothing like they had envisioned. If you are thinking about going sober, learning about the benefits of sober living could help reinforce your decision. Read on for 8 of the top benefits of sober living.
1. Improved Physical Health
Alcohol is one of the main culprits behind many people’s weight gain. Alcohol is high in calories and low in nutrients and it also makes you feel hungry. So after drinking you eat more than you should.
Alcohol can also stop your body from burning fat. This can make weight loss harder than it should be. Once you become sober you may start to lose weight and become more toned.
You will also stop the development of serious diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, strokes, and heart and liver disease. Sober living will also come with some lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating a nutritious diet, and sleeping better. All this contributes to healthier organs, increased immunity, and a fitter body.
2. Better Mental Health
Alcohol is a depressant. So, while it can give you temporary relief from stress or sadness, it’ll cause depression in the long run. Those that have abused alcohol for a long time no longer get dopamine spikes so for them it only acts as a depressant.
It can also worsen the symptoms of anxiety, aggression, psychosis, and increase memory loss. Alcohol can cause you to behave impulsively and do things you would never have considered when sober. This is why alcohol is often linked to self-harm and suicide.
Quitting alcohol can cause a significant change in your mental health. After a few weeks of sober living, you’ll notice that your mood lifts so that you are generally happier.
3. Greater Energy Levels
One surprising benefit of sobriety is the increase in energy levels that one gets. Because alcohol is a depressant, we are often sluggish when under the influence. When hungover we are often lethargic or sick.
Many of us know the feeling of wasting a whole Saturday in bed after a night of drinking. Imagine the number of things you could do with your time instead of having to take the time to constantly recover from a hangover.
Those that have embraced sober living improve their productivity and discover a wealth of energy to pursue their interests. For instance, they may take up a new hobby, start a business, or volunteer to a charity. They may also spend more time with friends and family.
Sobriety will also give you the energy for seemingly trivial pursuits. This includes things like cleaning your home, preparing nutritious meals, mowing your lawn, exercising, etc. These activities are important for your self-care and greatly increase the quality of your life.
4. Better Sleep Patterns
Alcohol addiction, like all other addictions, causes disturbed sleep patterns. Alcohol increases the amount of time it takes to sleep, reduces the duration of REM sleep, and also negatively affects sleep quality. You may also experience insomnia as one of your withdrawal symptoms after quitting alcohol.
In fact, for many people the extreme cravings they get while suffering from insomnia are the main reason why they relapse. But those that persevere find that with time, sober living leads to better sleeper times. They now find it easier to sleep and have longer periods of deep sleep.
Better sleep quality is one of the most important benefits of sobriety because sleep is important for physical health. Our heart and blood vessels heal and repair while we sleep. Lack of sleep also causes diseases such as kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
5. Improved Relationships with Loved Ones
The relationship we have with our loved ones is the main casualty of drug and alcohol addiction. Being under the influence can cause someone to be physically and emotionally abusive to those close to them. It also prevents one from having meaningful interactions with people which leads to a deterioration of our relationships.
Sometimes the addiction may lead one to steal from their loved ones to buy alcohol. In some instances, alcoholism can cause friends and family to permanently delete us from their lives. Committing to sober living could help you turn around any relationships damaged by alcoholism.
Friends and family may not be able to forget the past but they may accept and forgive the new you. You’ll have to prove through your actions that you have changed and are now committed to sober living. You may also meet new people that you may form deep and meaningful relationships due to your new perspective on life.
6. Better Finances
Addiction is expensive so recovery and sobriety can save you a chunk of change. Consider putting all the money you would spend on drugs or alcohol into an investment account. In a few years, you will be in a much better financial state than at the current moment.
Drugs and alcohol may also have drained your finances. You may have paid for a DUI or other costly legal fines. You can stop the cycle of falling victim to substances and their consequences. Sobriety can lead you to better decisions that make your money work for you.
Addiction may also have caused you to lose jobs or prevented you from pursuing promotions and better job opportunities. You probably had excessive work absences, reduced productivity, and bad performance reviews. Sober living will give you the clarity to perform your best at work so that you can keep any jobs that you get.
You’ll also have the confidence and capacity to go for better-paying jobs and higher positions. This will help you earn more money which you can save or invest towards your financial freedom and retirement.
7. Healthier Coping Mechanisms
Drugs and alcohol are often abused by people facing social and emotional problems. Rather than deal with the root cause of their problems they find it easier to numb their pain through substance abuse. But drowning your problems in alcohol only creates temporary relief and the problems never go away. In fact, addiction can compound your problems by worsening your health, relationships, and finances.
When you can’t rely on substances anymore you will find healthy ways to deal with your problems. Therapists, coaches, and counselors can help you identify different ways to deal with life’s obstacles. The good thing is that you will be dealing with problems so with time you will have fewer issues stressing your life. Perhaps you have a job that was causing you to drink, sobriety may force you to quit the job and find a better one. Or you may learn how to confront people that are stressing you and get them to stop.
8. Improved Self Esteem
Addiction is a common sign that someone has low self-esteem and a lack of self-love. Committing to your addiction recovery will increase your levels of self-esteem. You’ll go through counseling, therapy, and self-awareness which will all help you discover, love, and accept your authentic self.
You’ll also start to look better as drugs and alcohol may have caused you to gain weight. Sober living will result in clearer skin, brighter eyes, and a toned body. Once you are comfortable in your skin other people start reflecting your self-love by loving and accepting you as you are. This will create a new behavioral pattern that builds your self-esteem daily.
Start Reaping the Benefits of Sober Living
Sobriety has many benefits which is why many people that choose sober living don’t regret it. Getting and staying sober will improve your lifestyle and relationships thus helping you live a long, happy and healthy life. If you’re committed to sober living, consider moving to a sobriety home with a community of like-minded people.
Getting sober is a challenging process so to succeed you’ll need a stable home and supportive home environment. Sobriety homes will also give you access to outpatient treatment programs for substance abuse disorders. Use our tool to find a suitable, peer-reviewed sober living home that can aid your recovery.